Libya: “Contact group” meeting in Qatar

Unelected ‘friends of democracy’ show NATO’s hypocrisy

The final statement of the Qatar meeting of the so-called “contact group” on Libya, made up of countries supporting the UN/NATO intervention, had many fine phrases that were designed to disguise the group’s real motives.

The statement was introduced to the media by Qatar’s prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jahr Al Thani who said that in Libya, “There should be an inclusive political process so that the Libyan people can determine their own future”.

Of course he was only speaking about Libya, the situation in Qatar is somewhat different. No national elections have ever been held in Qatar. When Britain granted independence in 1971 it handed power back to the al-Thani dynasty. For years the monarchy has talked about national elections some time in the future. As the prime minister told journalists last November: “elections should be held one day” in Qatar. (14 November 2010,

The CIA’s Factbook currently is very clear when it describes Qatar’s feudal structure:

Chief of state: Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani (since 27 June 1995 when, as heir apparent, he ousted his father, Amir KHALIFA bin Hamad Al Thani, in a bloodless coup); Heir Apparent TAMIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, fourth son of the Amir (selected Heir Apparent by the Amir on 5 August 2003); note – Amir HAMAD also holds the positions of Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

“Elections: the Amir is hereditary

Note: in April 2007, Qatar held nationwide elections for a 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC), which has limited consultative powers aimed at improving the provision of municipal services; the first election for the CMC was held in March 1999. “Legislative branch: unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (35 seats; members appointed)

Note: no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have had their terms extended every year since the new constitution came into force on 9 June 2005; the constitution provides for a new 45-member Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura; the public would elect 30 members and the Amir would appoint 15; elections to the Majlis al-Shura are tentatively scheduled for June 2010.” [CWI note: these did not take place.]

While the rising tide of revolution in the Middle East has forced the Qatar regime now to promise national elections “in the near future” (1 March 2011, Agence France Presse), exactly when, or what real powers the “Advisory” Council would have are a different matter.

Mubarak with former US President George W. Bush

This revealing aspect of the Qatar meeting should serve as a warning to those Libyans who have any hopes that they can win democratic rights in alliance with any of the powers in the “contact group”. All of the governments in the “contact group”, including the US, France, Britain etc., sit quite happily alongside the feudal autocratic rulers of Qatar, the other Gulf states and Saudi Arabia and have no qualms about selling them weapons. This is because the capitalist powers’ foreign policies are dictated by the search for profit and to secure influence and control. For these powers, democratic rights are only seen as propaganda issues or a means of having a democratic cover behind which they continue their drive for profit.

For all their fine words the “contact group” would be quite willing to support a Libyan Ben Ali or Mubarak who acted in their interests; after all this is what they did for years in Egypt and Tunisia. The fact that they make no complaint when the self-appointed Interim National Council gives itself the right to write a new Libyan constitution shows how limited their support for democratic rights really is.

As we have previously argued, a programme for the Libyan revolution that will genuinely benefit the mass of the population would be based on winning and defending real democratic rights. It would demand an end to corruption and privilege, the safeguarding and further development of the social gains made since the discovery of oil, opposition to any form of re-colonisation and for a democratically controlled, publicly-owned economy planned to use the country’s resources in the interests of the majority of the population.

Such a programme can cut across tribal and regional divisions and unite the mass of the population against the Gaddafi clique and the imperialists’ attempts to regain their positions in Libya and in a joint struggle for a better future.

There can be no support for the imperialist intervention, despite its UN colouring. The Libyan working masses and youth should show no trust whatsoever in the so-called democratic powers. They need to always remember that up until a few weeks ago the US, Britain, France etc. were friends of Gaddafi and are still friends and allies of dictators and rotten regimes like Qatar etc. across the Arab world.

The creation of an independent movement of Libyan workers, poor people and youth that could implement such a real revolutionary transformation of the country is the only way to thwart the imperialists’ plans, end dictatorship, bring the bloody civil conflict to an end and start to transform the lives of the mass of the people.

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April 2011